DRAPER, Utah — A proposed nine-acre Science Learning Campus expansion to the Loveland Living Planet Aquarium (LLPA) is clawing its way to fruition thanks, literally, to The Claw — a 165-foot architectural structure that previously served as a stage for Irish rockers U2.
The oceanic-themed centerpiece of the band’s 2009 to 2011 “360° Tour,” The Claw simultaneously resembles a lobster claw and giant crab and has visited 30 countries whilst on tour. It’s now being preserved as a “Utah landmark and symbol of science exploration and learning,” according to organizers of the project.
“We are excited to bring this iconic monument to its permanent home in Utah,” said Brent Andersen, a marine biologist and LLPA’s founder and CEO in a statement. “Ultimately, we’re creating an engaging and interactive and aesthetically exciting experience, that’s also educational. Numerous studies have shown that people are more receptive to learning when they are in a state of wonder or fascination. Most cultural institutions, whether they are commissioning sculptures or adding design elements to their buildings or exhibitions, are doing it for the purpose of creating a richer experience for the guest.”
LLPA is home to over 4,000 marine animals, representing over 625 species. Last year, the LLPA hosted 830,000 guests and presented educational opportunities about biodiversity and ocean ecosystem conservation — an experience otherwise hard to come by in landlocked Utah.
The reenvisioned campus will be comprised of two principle structures — The Claw and an 80,000 square-foot Science Learning Center. The structure will include a five-story Asian Cloud Forest Habitat & Endangered Species Conservation Center, new indoor and outdoor animal exhibits, interactive science stations and a variety of high-tech laboratories and classrooms.
“Since the 360° Tour concluded in 2011, we’ve been vetting potential sites for the permanent placement of The Claw,” said Craig Evans, U2 Tour Director in a statement. “It’s bittersweet to see it go, but we are pleased it’s going to enhance the mission and vision of Loveland Living Planet Aquarium as part of its expanded campus.”
An “Eco Command Center” will reside below The Claw’s stage and feature myriad activities including “escape rooms,” event simulations and opportunities for team building exercises. Additional attractions include the implementation of virtual reality technology and other digital content experiences. Visitors will be treated to science and ecology-based “eco-missions” around the virtual globe with interactive, immersive experiences from deep oceans and Arctic regions to deserts and rainforests.
The aquarium is raising $25 million to create the entire Science Learning Campus via a GoFundMe campaign. Construction is slated to begin this Fall. Since opening its new facility in Draper in March 2014, the Aquarium has welcomed more than 3.5 million visitors.
The Claw at A Glance:
Height: 165 feet – as tall as 60 Gentoo penguins stacked one on top of another
Weight: 190 tons – as heavy as six Humpback whales
Area: 28,287 square feet – 78 times more area than the wingspan of a 19-foot Manta ray
Strength: Supports up to 200 tons – the weight of 10 Whale sharks
Built from: 42 truckloads of steel
Source: The Living Planet